House of Horrors

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House of Horrors
House-of-horrors-movie-poster-md.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byJean Yarbrough
Produced byBen Pivar[1]
Screenplay byGeorge Bricker[1]
Story byDwight V. Babcock[1]
Starring
CinematographyMaury Gertsman[1]
Edited byPhilip Cahn[1]
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures Company, Inc.
Release date
  • 22 February 1946 (1946-02-22) (New York)
  • 29 March 1946 (1946-03-29)
Running time
66 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
LanguageEnglish

House of Horrors is a 1946 American horror film released by Universal Pictures, starring Rondo Hatton as a madman named "The Creeper".

Plot[edit]

Struggling sculptor Marcel De Lange (Martin Kosleck) is depressed about events in his life, and decides to commit suicide. Just as he's about to kill himself, he sees a madman, known as "The Creeper" (Rondo Hatton), in the process of drowning, and saves him. Taking the disfigured man into his care, he makes him the subject of his next sculpture and calls it his best creation. When critics denigrate Marcel's work, he has the Creeper start killing them. Marcel becomes obsessed with Joan, a beautiful female reporter who believes the deaths are related. When Marcel invites her over and she sees Marcel's sculpture of The Creeper, she suspects that Marcel knows the killer. Later, Marcel decides that Joan knows too much and commands The Creeper to kill her. The Creeper is reluctant to do, however, when he discovers that Marcel plans to turn him over to the police. The Creeper kills Marcel, and is about to kill Joan when he is shot by the police.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

On November 8, 1944, an article in The Hollywood Reporter stated that producer Ben Pivar was relieved of all his lower- budget films on his shooting schedule and was going to focus on a larger budget film featuring new horror characters.[1] This included as series featuring actor Rondo Hatton as "The Creeper".[1] The authors of Universal Horrors suggested this report of a higher budget was either fabricated or the state of the production changes as when House of Horrors was developed, it did not have a larger budget than the average Universal b-film production.[1]

Initial shooting for House of Horrors began on September 11.[3] Initially ppKent Taylor]] was selected to play the part of Police Lt. Larry Brooks, but on the fourth day of production, before he was shot in any scenes, he was replaced by Bill Goodwin.[3] Taylor stated years later that he did play the role in the film, but disliked how the picture exploited actor Rondo Hatton, and demanded to be taken off the film.[3] The assisitant director's daily reports suggest that this story was a lie, stating that Goodwin was the only person to play Brooks on set.[3] Actress Virginia Christine recalled her brief role in the film, stating "I needed the money [laughs] - all actors need money!". Her only other recollection of the film was that to get a cat to follow her, they put anchovies or sardines on the back of her heel.[3] The scene with the cat is not in the final film.[3] Martin Kosleck was asked to audition for the role while on the Universal lot.[4] He received the script to study during the lunch hour for an audition, and after was offered the part immediately.[4] Kosleck was particularly proud of his performance in the film, stating he received fan mail for it and he "loved that part".[4] Filming ended on September 25, 1945.[4]

Release[edit]

House of Horrors was shown in New York on February 22, 1946.[2] It received wider release by Universal Pictures on March 29, 1946.[1][2] A series of Creeper films was planned, and the second one, The Brute Man, was filmed in 1946. Hatton died of complications from acromegaly before either film was released.[5] House of Horrors was released on DVD by the Willette Acquisition Corp. on Sep 27, 2013.[6] It was released on blu-ray by Shout! Factory on March 17, 2020 as the fourth volume in their "Universal Horror Collection".[7] The set also included Night Key, Night Monster and The Climax.[7]

Reception[edit]

From contemporary reviews, many critics commented on Rondo Hatton, with George H. Spires stating that his "Neanderthal features suffice without the aid of make up [...] and his ape-like appearance on the screen brings a gasp to the audience" while Edmond J. Bartnett of The New York Times was "properly scary".[8] Otis L. Guernsey, Jr. of The New York Herald-Tribune found The Creeper to be "not in the best of taste."[8] As for the picture overall, a reviewer in Harrison's Reports stated that "little about the proceedings to horrify one unless the fact that murders are committed by a half-witted giant can be considered horrendours rather than unpleasant."[8]

From retrospective reviews, the authors of the book Universal Horrors found that despite Rondo Hatton's acting and characters in the film being cliches, House of Horrors "rates as the best shocker in this last grap of Universal Horrors. It boasts creepy, atmospheric, film-noirish settings, evocative camerawork and is seldom dull."[9] In Leonard Maltin's film guide, the film was awarded two out of four stars, criticizing the script as "laughable" and moderate acting, calling it "[a] Slightly below average horror meller."[10]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 525.
  2. ^ a b c d "House of Horrors (1946)". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 526.
  4. ^ a b c d Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 529.
  5. ^ Viera 2003, p. 102.
  6. ^ "House of Horrors (1946)". AllMovie. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 4". Shout! Factory. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 530.
  9. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 528.
  10. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]